• Last modified 606 days ago (Dec. 17, 2020)


Vaccine expected next week

Staff writer

COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive in the county sometime next week, but the exact date isn’t known yet.

The vaccines were delivered in Topeka over the weekend and have been sent to hospitals in larger cities.

County health department administrator Diedre Serene said the state has not notified her when the county’s shipment will arrive.

Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first to get vaccinated. Large pharmacies will administer shots to patients in long-term care facilities.

The second wave of vaccines is for essential workers including first responders and people who work in meat packing plants and grocery stores.

Serene said she expects the county’s first vaccines to come from the Moderna Co. That vaccine is set to be approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within days.

The county saw a post-Thanksgiving spike of more than 100 COVID cases.

Both Serene and county medical consultant Don Hodson said the Thanksgiving spike is almost over.

“I saw quite a few people who got it on Thanksgiving, but that was last week,” he said. “If people hang on a little longer, the vaccine will be here.”

Serene said the health department has definitely seen spikes related to gatherings.

We’re not out of the woods yet, Hodson said.

“If you haven’t had it already you probably shouldn’t travel for Christmas,” he said. “We can’t let our guard down yet.”

Cases surged after Halloween, then took a brief respite, then surged again after Thanksgiving.

The county reported 25 new cases last Wednesday, 21 more Friday, and 17 more Monday. The number of new cases in the last seven days swelled to a four-week high of 63.

The county’s total number of COVID-19 cases now stands at 552 since the pandemic began 7½ months ago.

More than 100 of those cases were diagnosed since Thanksgiving, and two-thirds of them since Halloween.

Marion County Health Department reported Monday that 55 COVID victims were continuing to exhibit symptoms or require treatment. Six of them were hospitalized. Since the pandemic began, at least three county residents have died from the virus.

Data released Monday show that 35.8% of all county residents receiving PCR or antigen tests for COVID-19 in the past 14 days tested positive for the disease. This so-called positivity rate, which has been rising, is a closely watched measure of the virulence with which COVID-19 can spread in any community.

State standards, for example, call for canceling face-to-face school classes whenever the rate exceeds 10%.

Marion County schools have a considerably less restrictive standard, ignoring community transfer rates and focusing solely on numbers of students and staff members infected or quarantined. Still, some face-to-face classes, notably all classes at Centre and some at Peabody-Burns, have been suspended as have sports at Centre.

Marion County remains securely in a federally designated “red zone,” with a seven-day increase of 5.3 — or more than five times the federal standard — in the number of cases per 1,000 residents. As of Monday evening,

Marion County’s infection rate stood at 46.4. Six weeks ago, it was just 14.6.

In some communities, people who have visited federal “red zones” like Marion County must quarantine for up to 14 days before being allowed to resume normal activities upon their return.

Last modified Dec. 17, 2020